Retrovirus research progress

18th January 2018

JPK Instruments reports on the ground-breaking research into the understanding of the reproduction of retroviruses such as HIV at Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheba, Israel. This research uses JPK's NanoWizard Ultra Speed AFM. 
Professor Itay Rousso leads a research group in the Department of Physiology and Cell Biology at Ben-Gurion University in Beer Sheba. Their focus is to uncover the physical mechanism underlying the replication machinery of enveloped retroviruses (primarily HIV). So far, they have studied the assembly and budding steps, viral entry and during the past three years, they have been studying the mechanism that triggers core disassembly and release of the viral genome – a process termed uncoating. 
In the opinion of Professor Rousso, one of the major advantages of the AFM is its ability to study “live” samples under physiological environments with spatial resolution similar to that of the EM. This ability enables investigating dynamic processes as well as characterisation of samples under native environments. His team studies specimens at sizes of 80-100nm, which is well within the resolution limit of the AFM, which allow the investigation of viral associated process with sufficient resolution. Presently, the questions they investigate can hardly be addressed using other techniques. 
With experience of different commercial systems, Dr Rousso talks about why the JPK system offers particularly helpful capabilities. “For us, the system can provide some of the more advanced features such as quantitative imaging mode, QI, and fast-scanning imaging. The main benefits in using the system are that JPK provides a direct link to its development team. This enables more flexibility in our work, e.g. we often use non-conventional measurements which we can consult and even obtain some custom modifications; and the open architecture design of the operating system basically provides the user with the ability to customise nearly every parameter and perform measurements and experiments as required.” 
The Rousso group has published a number of papers using the JPK NanoWizard AFM to study the mechanical and morphological properties of HIV-1 capsids. These illustrate the system's versatility, resolution and high performance imaging.





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